The Logic of Insurgent Electoral Violence
Luke N. Condra
James D. Long
Andrew C. Shaver
Austin L. Wright
- American Economic Review (Forthcoming)
Competitive elections are essential to establishing the political legitimacy of democratizing
regimes. We argue that insurgents undermine the state's mandate through electoral violence.
We study insurgent violence during elections using newly declassified microdata on the conflict
in Afghanistan. Our data track insurgent activity by hour to within meters of attack locations.
Our results demonstrate that insurgents carefully calibrate their production of violence during
elections to avoid harming civilians. Leveraging a novel instrumental variables approach, we
find that violence depresses voting. Collectively, the results suggest insurgents try to depress
turnout while avoiding backlash from harming civilians. Counterfactual exercises provide potentially actionable insights for safeguarding at-risk elections and enhancing electoral legitimacy
in emerging democracies.
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